You Don’t Pick the Opera-Life, the Opera-Life Picks You

Let’s be honest – My affiliation with ‘opera singers’ in general is very limited. It’s not that I have anything against the profession – quite the contrary – but rather that I haven’t had the proper opportunity.

We can firstly say that as Sam Roberts-Smith entered the room, he was not what the stereotypes lead me to believe. For example, the fables often portray opera singers as large (yet lovable) men, with loud voices to match the capabilities of their singing aptitude. Sam seemed to the opposite, in fact we discussed his daily gym routine and the way in which he chooses to live a healthy lifestyle amongst the hearty pace of performance rehearsals. It’s a priority he places large importance on, emphasising the need for lifestyle balance.

To backtrack, as their final performance for 2016 the West Australian Opera, alongside the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO), are re-creating Bizet’s masterpiece The Pearl Fishers. It’s a romantic story involving violence, lust, greed, lies and many other heart-wrenching emotions that involve a tumultuous love triangle set amongst Ceylon grounds. Sam will be playing one of the leads. It’s a commanding role which will require a commanding performer.


Sam Roberts-Smith pictured with Avenoir writer Roma Christian

No doubt Sam will likely deliver. Did we mention he was awarded the prestigious Deutsche Oper Berlin Award from the Opera Foundation? It’s the first of the German Awards that awards him a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin until the 2018 season.

Regardless, he holds an impressive resume for a man of seemingly young years – [unless he’s using an anti-aging skincare regime that’s highly effective]. 

So how did he start? How does a performer embark on such a career path? Firstly, he casually mentions he’s been doing opera for 11 years. Wait. 11 years?

[That’s some skin care regime].


Sam reveals that he ‘stumbled upon’ the opera world, almost as though he didn’t plan to. A homegrown Perth talent, Sam started performing at his secondary Hale School concerts, in lieu of athletic pursuits derived from previous injury. His singing teacher noticed characteristics in his voice, which she immediately stated would be perfect for opera. And with that, his career was born…

After completing further musical education, Sam moved to Melbourne to perform in other notable acts, before moving back to Perth, where we find him now. He seems balanced and pleased to be ‘back home’.

Without further ado, here are five things I learned from our chat:

  1. Sometimes Life chooses your career for you. Embrace it.
  2. Often your path is a mix between what comes naturally to you, and what you can work hard for
  3. You can’t afford to let emotion interfere with your work, whatever it may be. In ‘The Pearl Fishers’ there’s an especially emotive song between Sam and his co-star Emma. While he says it’s easy to let the emotion get to you, it wouldn’t allow his best vocals to shine unfettered, and with that, the excessive emotions are cast aside.
  4. Remember what you’re paid to do, and do it. Focus is powerful.
  5. Nothing can ever be fully planned, in life or work. His opera career is a walking metaphor for that.

Here’s to a perfect harmony between talent, opportunity, and destiny.


The Pearl Fishers will be performed at His Majesty’s Theatre on October 25, 27, 29 & November 1, 3, 5. For further information and Tickets visit the West Australian Opera website



About Roma Christian

view all posts

With her hands often in numerous projects at once, Roma maintains a level-head with copious amounts of green tea & Seinfeld reruns. A strong penchant for writing about the human condition, she loves discussing human psychology, and uncovering magic found in the ordinary events of Life. Instagram: @roma.ireen.christian